IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: California's all-time record heat and record drought explode into more record wildfire, as the state succeeds in passing some --- but not all --- of its ambitious clean energy agenda; PLUS: Score one for the bees: Appeals court overturns EPA approval of bee-killing pesticide... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): VIDEO: If We Burn it all, We Melt it All; Hot August Confirms That Long-Awaited Global Temperature Speed Up Is Here; Coal giant Peabody exploited Ebola crisis for corporate gain; World's biggest PR firm, Edelmen, ends work with coal producers and climate change deniers; Naomi Klein: How the climate crisis can change Canada for the better; Coal exec: Stream rule is industry’s biggest threat; Navy To Limit Use of Sonar To Protect Whales... PLUS: Gov. Jerry Brown Sent Ben Carson A Flash Drive To Cure His Climate Denial... and much, MUCH more! ...
STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- "No end in sight": State of emergency declared in California wildfires:
- California fire updates: Valley fire grows to 67,000 acres; 15% contained (LA Times)
- California Wildfires: How To Help Those Affected By Butte, Valley Fires (Capitol Public Radio)
- “Mind-boggling” California Wildfire Burns Hundreds of Homes (Slate)
- The latest: 23,000 displaced by 2 California wildfires (AP):
State officials say 23,000 people have been displaced by two explosive wildfires decimating whole communities in Northern California. Mark Ghilarducci, director of Office of Emergency Services, said at a news conference Monday that about 13,000 have been driven from their homes by a wildfire 20 miles north of the famed Napa Valley. He says about 10,000 people have been displaced from a second blaze less than 200 miles away in the Sierra Nevada. People have packed evacuation centers as the fires have destroyed hundreds of homes and led to one confirmed death. Ghilarducci says more residents are missing.
- Dramatic video shows narrow escape from raging California inferno (Mashable):
- California drought worst in 500 yeras:
- Study Finds Snowfall in California’s Sierra Nevada to Be Lowest in 500 Years (NY Times):
The paper is the first to create a model that describes temperature and precipitation levels on the Sierra Nevada that extends centuries before researchers started measuring snow levels each year.
- Sierra Nevada snowpack hit a 500-year low in 2015 (LA Times):
researchers say this year's record-low snowpack may be far more historic --- and ominous --- than previously realized. In a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, scientists estimate that the recent Sierra Nevada snowpack was the lowest it has been in more than 500 years. "We were expecting that 2015 would be extreme, but not like this," said senior study author Valerie Trouet, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Arizona.
- California drought: Sierra Nevada snowpack falls to 500-year low (Guardian UK):
Last winter's snow accumulation in the mountains that provide state's most important natural water system was just 5% of what is normal, study finds.
- California passes ambitious climate and clean energy legislation:
- Half Of California’s Electricity Will Come From Renewable Energy In 15 Years (Climate Progress):
The state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) currently requires utilities to provide 33 percent of their electricity generation from renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal power, by 2020. The new bill, The Clean Energy and Reduction Act, would increase that target to 50 percent by 2030. It would also require a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in buildings by that year.
- Landmark Climate Bill Directs Electric Utilities to Displace Oil Companies (NRDC Switchboard)
- AUDIO: 'California To Start Rationing Gas!,' They Lied: 'BradCast' 9/9/2015 (The BRADBLOG):
Guest: Timothy O'Connor of the Environmental Defense Fund...California Is about to do something no state has ever done before... If California can do this, it could really be the beginning of the snowball.
- Can California really cut gasoline use by 50 percent? (San Jose Mercury News) [emphasis added]:
As the final days of this year's legislative session in Sacramento loom, a controversial bill that would require the state to reduce petroleum use by motor vehicles at least 50 percent by 2030 is causing people in the Capitol and around the state to ask: "Is that even possible?" Yet lost in the debate are two key facts: The state will get halfway to that goal even if it does nothing.
- Gas reduction dropped from California climate change bill (LA Times):
"Oil has won the skirmish. But they've lost the bigger battle," he said at a Capitol news conference. "Because I am more determined than ever." Brown added, "We're not going to miss a beat."
- California Lawmakers Just Gutted Brown's Climate Bills. So What? (Bloomberg)
- Gov. Jerry Brown warns climate change will bring mass migration:
- VIDEO: Jerry Brown warns of mass migration in California if global warming continues (Sacramento Bee):
Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday that his legislative setbacks on climate change last week should be viewed "not in terms of me," warning California will endure European-style effects of mass migration if the state fails to act on global warming. "What we've in Europe now with mass migrations, that will happen in California, as ... Central America and Mexico, as they warm, people are going to get on the move."
- Spread of deserts costs trillions, spurs migrants: study (Reuters):
Land degradation, such as a spread of deserts in parts of Africa, costs the world economy trillions of dollars a year and may drive tens of millions of people from their homes, a U.N.-backed study said on Tuesday. Worldwide, about 52 percent of farmland is already damaged, according to the report by The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD), compiled by 30 research groups around the world.
- Score one for the bees: Court overturns EPA pesticide approval:
- Court revokes EPA approval of insecticide harmful to bees; Approval of controversial insecticide revoked. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) [emphasis added]:
The nation’s beekeepers won a round. In an unusual decision with wide implications for bees and other pollinators, a federal appeals court Thursday revoked federal approval of a controversial insecticide because government regulators relied on flawed and limited information about its impact on honeybees....The EPA violated its own rules and procedures, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision said. And in an unusual move, it took the added step of overturning the EPA’s approval because “given the precariousness of the bee populations,” leaving the insecticide on the market would create greater environmental risks than pulling it.
- Federal Court Overturns EPA Approval of Bee-Killing Pesticide (Common Dreams):
The Court vacated EPA’s approval, meaning that sulfoxaflor may not be used in the US unless, and until, EPA obtains the necessary information regarding impacts to honeybees and re-approves the insecticide in accordance with law.
- Bees Win Big in Court, EPA’s Approval of Toxic Pesticide Overturned (EcoWatch):
In her opinion, Judge Mary M. Schroeder wrote that the EPA had initially decided to conditionally approve the chemical but ordered more studies done to better understand the effects the systemic insecticide would have on bees. “A few months later, however, the EPA unconditionally registered the insecticides with certain mitigation measures and a lowering of the maximum application rate,” Schroeder wrote. “It did so without obtaining any further studies.”
- Colony Collapse Disorder Is Not What You Think (Take Part, 6/20/14):
Maybe it’s the apocalyptic narrative of colony collapse disorder that makes it so compelling, or the way it synthesizes disparate, complicated environmental and agricultural issues into one familiar insect, one simple acronym. The dying bees are both a symbol and a symptom of a food production system that prizes yields over anything and everything—even the lives of the pollinators that it depends on. In some unknown combination, (a) eating from a succession of monocultures while (b) being exposed to chemicals and (c) stresses imposed by their keepers plus (d) factors yet to be determined is making bees unhealthy.
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- VIDEO: If We Burn it all, We Melt it All (Climate Crocks):
In a major surprise to the scientists, they found that half the melting could occur in as little as a thousand years, causing the ocean to rise by something on the order of a foot per decade, roughly 10 times the rate at which it is rising now.
- Hot August Confirms That Long-Awaited Global Temperature Speed Up Is Here (Climate Progress):
NASA reports that this was the hottest start to any year on record by far. This was the hottest August by far in the dataset of the Japan Meteorological Agency, and close to tied with 2014 for hottest August in the NASA dataset.
- Coal giant Peabody exploited Ebola crisis for corporate gain, say health experts (Guardian UK):
Public health experts outraged after world's largest privately-held coal company, Peabody Energy, promotes its product in the fight against Ebola in Africa as part of a PR campaign to rebrand the fossil fuel as a solution to global poverty.
- USDA, DOI, and OMB Urge Congress to Fix the Fire Budget (USDA press release):
On the heels of a notification Monday from USDA to Congress of the need to transfer an additional $250 million to cover wildfire suppression costs for the remainder of the year, Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and the White House Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan sent a joint letter to Congress requesting they act to change the way the nation pays for wildfire costs so that we can continue to adequately invest in forest and rangeland restoration, and make lands less vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire and more resilient.
- This American City Is Now 100 Percent Powered By Renewable Energy (Climate Progress):
Last week, the city of Aspen, Colorado declared it had become the third municipality to receive all of its power from renewable sources. Aspen's energy portfolio now primarily consists of wind power and hydroelectric, with smaller contributions from solar and geothermal.
- Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis: How the climate crisis can change Canada for the better (Op-ed, Toronto Star):
[The Leap Manifesto] begins to get into the nitty-gritty of how we get from where we are, to where we need to be - and how we pay for it. The document calls not just for renewable energy but "energy democracy" - bringing power generation under democratic community control, with First Nations first in line. It also calls for massive public funding for affordable transit and housing to create a huge wave of green jobs. And it redefines that well-worn category as not just the folks in hard hats putting up wind turbines, but everyone already working in the low-carbon economy: caregivers, health care workers, artists and teachers. It even calls for national debate on a guaranteed income.
- World's biggest PR firm, Edelmen, ends work with coal producers and climate change deniers (Guardian UK):
World's biggest PR firm says high risk clients threaten its reputation, following criticism for its work on behalf of fossil fuel companies.
- US and Chinese cities reveal stronger pledges to cut emissions (Guardian UK):
New, more ambitious goals from dozens of major cities boosts earlier historic deal between the world's two biggest carbon polluting countries.
- Coal exec: Stream rule is industry’s biggest threat (The Hill) [emphasis added]:
“The Obama administration's so-called Stream Protection Rule is the single greatest threat to the jobs and family livelihoods of our employees that I have seen in my 58 years in the coal industry,” Murray said...The rule from the Office of Surface Mining, is meant to update three-decade-old standards to ensure that mining operations do not permanently harm streams and the ecosystems that rely on them.
- Ex Machina: No Techno-Fix For Irreversible Ocean Collapse From Carbon Pollution (Climate Progress):
The Nature Climate Change study examined what would happen if we continue current CO2 emissions trends through 2050 and then try to remove huge volumes of CO2 from the air after the fact with some techno-fix. The result, as co-author John Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, put it, is "we will not be able to preserve ocean life as we know it."
- Gov. Jerry Brown Sent Ben Carson A Flash Drive To Cure His Climate Denial (Climate Progress):
"Please use your considerable intelligence to review this material," a letter accompanying the flash drive read. "Climate change is much bigger than partisan politics."
- Thousands Forced To Flee Their Homes After Japan Experiences ‘Unprecedented’ Rainfall (Climate Progress):
Eastern Japan was hit by widespread, dangerous flooding and more than 60 landslides this week.
- Navy To Limit Use of Sonar To Protect Whales, Dolphins Off California (AP):
The Navy agreed to limit its use of sonar and other training that inadvertently harms whales, dolphins and other marine mammals off Hawaii and California in a settlement with environmental groups approved Monday.
- Every country is now pledging to tackle CO2 emissions. It's still not enough. (Vox.com):
In other words, if the world wants to stay below 2°C of global warming - which has long been considered the danger zone for climate change - these pledges are only a first step. Countries will have to do a whole lot more than they're currently promising. And the IEA has a few ideas for what "do a whole lot more" might entail.
1. Increase energy efficiency in the industry, buildings, and transport sectors.
2. Progressively reduce the use of the least efficient coal-fired power plants and banning their construction.
3. Increase investment in renewable energy technologies in the power sector from $270 billion in 2014 to $400 billion in 2030.
4. Gradually phase out fossil fuel subsidies to end-users by 2030.
5. Reduce methane emissions in oil and gas production.
- Now's Your Chance to Help Save the Imperiled Monarch Butterfly-and Get Paid to Do So (Take Part) [emphasis added]:
Another threat, according to Grant, has been well-intentioned individuals who have planted a tropical form of milkweed, which competes with native varieties and is not beneficial to monarchs or other pollinators.
FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page
- Video Proof That Global Warming is a 'Hoax'!: NASA Temperature Data 1888-2011 (The BRAD BLOG):
- NASA climate change video: This is the U.S. in 2100 (NASA).